On Friday of Bright Week, we celebrate the rededication of the Church of our most Holy Lady, the Mother of God, which is called the Life-giving Spring.
We commemorate today the manifold great miracles that surpass all nature that were wrought in this Church by the Mother of God. This Church was first built by the great emperor Leo of Thrace, also named Makelles, in the year of our Lord 454. It was located outside the walls of Constantinople near the Golden Gate, not far from the Seven Towers district. This man was good, humble and kindhearted even before he ascended the imperial throne. One day, as he was walking near the place which would later be the site of the Church, he found a blind man who was wandering about. Taking him by the hand, Leo comforted him as they went on their way. Drawing near the place where the Spring was, the blind man became thirsty and begged Leo to give him some water to quench his thirst. Leo went deeper into the woods which were full of dense trees and thick brush looking for water, but finding none he turned back, sorrowful. Returning, he heard a voice from above saying, "Leo, you do not need to tire yourself for there is water nearby." He again returned and searched diligently, greatly exhausting himself, but still could not find any water, and again he heard the voice as before, saying, "Emperor Leo, enter into the deepest part of the woods and you will find a lake; draw some cloudy water from it with your hands and give it to the blind man to quench his thirst, then anoint his darkened eyes with the clay and you will immediately know who I am, for I have dwelt in this place for a long time." Leo obeyed and did as the voice commanded him, and at once the blind man regained his sight. After a short time, as the Mother of God had foretold, Leo was enthroned as emperor. At his own expense, he then built the first Church near this Spring as it is seen today. Many miracles were worked daily in this Church.
After many years, the emperor Justinian the Great sought and received healing in this Church from kidney stones which were tormenting him. Being grateful for his cure, he rebuilt the Church to the Mother of the Word, making it larger and more ornate. But this building was then destroyed by numerous earthquakes, and thus was later repaired and rebuilt by the emperor Basil the Macedonian and his son Leo the Wise. During their lifetime, this Spring worked many miracles: it healed swollen growths, kidney stones, tuberculosis, and many other forms of diseases: inflamed growths, erysipelas [characterized by high fever and watery swellings on and under the skin], issues of blood from the empress and other women, fevers lasting three and four days, suppurating abscesses [abscesses which discharge pus], bacterial skin infections, and barren wombs. The Grace of this Spring loosed the empress Zoe from her barrenness and she then gave birth to the emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus. This same Spring raised a dead man from Thessaly in the following manner: he was on his way to the Spring, but when he realized that he would die before reaching it, he begged the sailors to take his body to the Church of the Spring and when it was time to bury him to pour over it three pails of water from this Spring. The sailors obeyed his request and after they had poured the water over him, the dead man returned to life. After many years, the Church was about to collapse, but the Mother of God appeared and supported it until all the people streamed outside to safety. Water from the Spring has cast out many devils from those possessed, freed many who were bound in prison, healed emperor Leo the Wise from stones, and cured his wife, Theophana, from acute fevers; it delivered his brother the Patriarch Stephen from tuberculosis, and restored hearing to Patriarch John of Jerusalem. It healed Tarasius, the patrician, of acute fevers, healed his mother, Magistrisa and his son Stilianos from kidney stones, and delivered a woman named Stizina from a sickness of the womb. Emperor Roman from Lacapa, along with his empress, was cured of locked bowels from drinking this water. In Chaldea, the monk Perperin and his disciple were healed through calling upon the Mother of God; and the monks Matthew and Meletius were delivered through her after they had been denounced to the emperor. Patricians and proconsuls and others whose names are beyond telling were healed, among whom was an Ishiot and a man named Stephen. What tongue can tell of the wonders which this water has worked, and continues to work, to this day? They are more numerous than the drops of rain, than the stars and the leaves upon the trees. We have seen multitudes of these wonders in our own time: it has healed gangrene, poisoning by deadly potions, warts, erysipelas, leprosy, and fierce diseases. The water has cured those suffering from swellings, eye pains, tearing, and cataracts. John Varagus was cured of dropsy, and another Varagus was healed of a severe bacterial skin infection. Mark the hieromonk was cured of a swelling on one of his cheeks; an aristocratic woman, confined to her bed for fifteen years, was cured; Macarius the monk was cured of stones. It is impossible to find the words to tell of all the others who were healed by this water, for many were cured and continue to be cured in our day, for the grace of this water will never cease.
The Church was finally demolished when Constantinople fell to the Moslems in 1453, and the stones from the Church were used to build the mosque of Sultan Bayezid. An impoverished chapel existed on the site until 1821, the year of the Greek uprising, when even this was destroyed. God, who as a loving Father cares for His children, had Sultan Mahmud allow the Orthodox to begin rebuilding the chapel in 1833. During the construction of the chapel, when the foundations of the earlier church were discovered, the Sultan gave his permission for the building of a new church on the foundation of the earlier one. On February 2, 1835, the new Church was consecrated and again dedicated to the Most Holy Theotokos by the Ecumenical Patriarch, Constantine II, twelve hierarchs, and a multitude of clergy and Orthodox Christians. This magnificent Church was again looted, desecrated, and destroyed by the Moslems in 1955. At present, there is a small church on the site. Today, the spring water, which is still a great source of miracles, is channeled into a fish-breeding tank. This holy water is known as "Baloukli" from the Turkish balik, which means fish.
Through the prayers of Your Holy Mother, O Christ our God,
have mercy on us and save us.